What’s your next big trip? Take some advice from these trendsetting travel consultants who filled us in on where they went in 2016.
Leah Smith, of Tafari Travel headed to Alaska, where she ventured past the Arctic Circle. “I saw very little signs of human life,” she recalls, “And, I forwent luxury accommodations, staying in literally a truck stop, in order to see the Northern Lights from one of the best viewing locations on earth.”
Explore Fairbanks assisted her with the special trip, she says. “They certainly exceeded my expectations, except for flipping that magic switch to turn on the Northern Lights. During my stay it was uncharacteristically overcast and I never was able to see the lights. It was a humbling experience, which reminded me that even with the absolute best travel planners, Mother Nature always wins!”
Gena Gunter of Eyes on U Travel went to Turkey last May to uncover some of the more “off-the-beaten path locales in the country; she also visited several upscale resorts along the Turquoise coast. The tour was sponsored by D-Hotels & Resorts and Turkish Airlines.
“It was such an incredible, magical and exotic trip,” says Gunter. “It’s such a shame that the current terrorist activity has caused great concerns that make Turkey a hard sell. The resorts were amazing and yes, Turkey does have few other places besides Istanbul.”
She stayed in the new D Maris Bay (fly into the Bodrum airport and either take ground transport or their private helicopter to the resort, she advises). The hotel,"in a peaceful bay surrounded by pine forests and mountains, has outdoor and indoor pools, a spa center and five blue flag private beaches in the Datca Peninsula. The sand is imported in from Egypt,” says Gunter. “And all the rooms all have a private balcony and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea.”
Julia Shore, Reid Travel also ventured to what she calls “my tried & true Turkey,” making stops at Istanbul, Cappadocia, Konya and Pamukkale. She had visited various parts of Turkey and Istanbul numerous times but hadn’t been back to Cappadocia since 1982.
“Pamukkale and Konya, where the Whirling Dervish was first introduced by Rumi was new to me,” she says. “ My main reason for coming to Konya was a visit to Mevlana Museum and the Dervish. The experience was worth a long drive. In Cappadocia, I hiked Ihlara and Pigeon Valley and I got my feet wet in the mineral pools that date back to Roman times. Since I have seen most of Istanbul’s tourist sites on previous visits, I opted for something different: Gulhane Park where the first tulips were planted and, of course, a culinary tour where I ate my way through the day…starting with a breakfast and ending with dinner. I have sampled a number of Istanbul’s top properties in the last 15 years, but this time the hotel of choice was the newest hotel—Raffles, lovely with the most amazing spa. In Cappadocia, instead of the Museum Hotel or Sacred House (I did see both, they are lovely), I opted for Esbelli Evi, a small boutique hotel which offers spacious suites, great location and authentic Anatolian décor. In Konya, a suite at the Hich Hotel was perfect for an overnight stay as it overlooks the Mevlana Museum. On this trip I tried two tour operators: Travel Atelier and Turkey Tour Organizer. They were different, but both provided a seamless service and amazing guides.”
Alison Bastianelli of CRC Travel and her husband spent four nights in Paris and four nights in London. “One of our favorite days in Paris was exploring a local artisan market where we bought fresh bread, cheese and wine,” she tells us. “We then packed our picnic lunch and took a bicycle tour of Versailles where we enjoyed lunch by the pond overlooking the Palace. A few days later we boarded the Eurostar train to London, where a highlight was touring the interior of Buckingham Palace. The Palace is only open to the public a few months out of the year when the Queen is on holiday. We stayed at wonderful properties that are part of the Signature Travel Collection. In Paris we stayed at Le Meurice, The Pont Royal Hotel and Pavillon de la Reine. In London, we stayed at The Lanesborough, The Savoy and Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel.”
Dee Branciforte from Fischer Travel also went to Paris. “We stayed at the magnificent Le Meurice, where they just completed a brand new suite that feels more like an apartment than a hotel suite. You can see Franka Holtmann’s personal touch throughout the suite! From there we ventured into Burgundy where we were received by the famous Clos du Tarte Winery and tasted wine from the barrel (my next favorite passion after travel!) followed by a visit to the incredibly special town and property called La Bastide de Gordes. Here we relaxed by the pool admiring the magical vistas, spoiled ourselves in the spa and enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant. Our last stop was at the world famous Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, which is as elegant as ever.” Branciforte also attended a Preferred Hotels Advisory Board meeting at the famed K Club in Ireland. “The grounds are exquisite,” she says.
Jim Wiedeman of Valerie Wilson Travel traveled to Paris in July with his wife as well, but that was just the beginning. “The focus of our trip was the preview voyage of the new Regent Seven Seas Explorer from Barcelona to Monte Carlo,” he says. “We began our trip with a quick two-night stop in Paris at Le Bristol. We had been in Paris one week after the bombing last November and were anxious to return. We had an amazing time walking the city, visiting Frank Gehry's Louis Vuitton Fondation Building and dining at our favorite little restaurant in the 4th arrondissement. From there, we took the TGV to Marseille where we spent three nights at the InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu, which is a true jewel in a city in transition. We dined at outdoor pizzerias watching the UEFA championship with locals on TVs placed on the piazzas. From Marseille, we took the train to Aix-en-Provence and Avignon for day trips. We then trained to Barcelona and spent two nights at the Hotel Catedral Barcelona, a small hotel near the cathedral with an amazing staff. We boarded the Regent Seven Seas Explorer and sailed for five days in the Mediterranean, ending in Monte Carlo. We flew home that day though our original plan was to spend Bastille Day in Nice.”
We've got more! Watch this space for future trips from Luxury Travel Advisor’s Trendsetters. And to learn more about our Trendsetters, click here.